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Bullying of Hokkaido girl who froze to death recognized, overturning initial denial


ASAHIKAWA, Hokkaido -- A third party committee investigating bullying suspicions in this northern Japan city announced on March 27 that a 14-year-old girl who was found frozen to death in March 2021 had been bullied at her school, which educators had initially denied.

    The committee, entrusted by the Asahikawa Municipal Board of Education with the investigation into whether Saaya Hirose, a second-year junior high school student, had been bullied, said "there were facts that could be recognized as bullying."

    The investigation results were reported to Hirose's family on the same day. Details will reportedly be announced in the near future.

    The probe overturned the initial conclusion by the education board and Hirose's school that her case "cannot be recognized as bullying." The board's superintendent Shinichi Kurowarabi commented, "As the education board, we gravely accept the fact that bullying was not acknowledged at the time. We would like to put in our utmost effort to recover trust in the future."

    As contents reported by the school differed greatly from what had been covered by the media, the education board in April 2021 recognized Hirose's circumstances as a "serious case" under the Act for the Promotion of Measures to Prevent Bullying. An investigation by a third-party committee was launched to examine the responses taken by educators at the time.

    (Japanese original by Nobuaki Tsuchiya, Asahikawa Bureau)

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